Being an author is hard. Not only must we make time to write outside of all our normal day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, but being an author is a competitive profession. Every day, we read our favorite books and wonder if we will ever make it big like our role models. And, once you’re finally published, odds are you also have to make time to market and advertise your book on your own. In short, being an author adds a lot to your already full plate.
With that said, however, there are so many authors who have made their dreams come true, who stay up late and put in the extra hours. They see other authors not as competition, but as inspiration.
If you ever feel like you’re struggling as an author, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there, and I’m sure we will experience doubt, frustration, and feelings of being overwhelmed yet again. To help reassure you in times of doubt, I wanted to share a few thoughts from Beth Buck, Acquisitions manager at Immortal Works about what she has learned—both now and in her years as a student—about how to overcome the challenges we all face as authors.
Bridget Edwards: A lot of us have work from home now, which blurs the line between work and family life. What would you share with those who are struggling to find that balance and the time to do what they need to?
Beth Buck: I work from home, so my office is my kitchen table. As I write this, my table is strewn with tomatoes from my garden, pencils from homeschooling, my watercolor paints (because self-care), a hairbrush, and crumbs from last night’s birthday cake (my second-oldest turned 9!). Today is a good day because I showered before noon and managed to brush my hair, too! The baby is a little fussy, so I’m nursing him here at the table while I write this. (ha ha, I’m just kidding—after squirming out of my lap, he found something that had bright green frosting, and I had to leap up from my chair, chase him down, and scrub the frosting out of the carpet.)
Later, I need to sweep the floor, run the dishwasher, throw the laundry in the washing machine, make dinner, and put six (yes, you read that correctly) children to bed. That’s just what I have to do today. On top of taking care of my family, there’s the stuff I do in my neighborhood and in my faith community, and all of my duties here at Immortal Works.
That might seem like a lot, and maybe it is.
But, I’m not the only one. A lot of people are knee-deep in the same minutiae of everyday life, and many find it overwhelming, especially when it feels like they can’t achieve their dreams.
“I’m too busy,” they say.
The truth is: you can always make time to do the things you want! Whether it is looking at pictures of cats on the internet, scrolling through your social media feed, or promoting your book, you can make it happen.
BE: As authors, and just as human beings, it’s easy to compare ourselves with others—especially when comparing our struggles and failures with others’ success. What advice do you have for authors who may struggle with comparing themselves to others?
BB: When I was in my sophomore year in college, the faculty in my major (which was Middle Eastern Studies, of all things) organized a meeting that highlighted some of the interesting opportunities and projects that some of the other students were involved in. These included postgraduate research, trips to archeological digs in Jordan, and so on. As the faculty gave glowing reports about what these students were up to, I wanted to sink into my chair. I was sitting there thinking, "I'm not anyone special. I'm not doing any of these things. I got a B in modern Middle Eastern History. I'm completely wasting my life." I went home that day feeling depressed.
It wasn't until many years after graduating that I looked back and realized I had completely missed the point of that meeting. It wasn't to shame those of us who hadn't yet visited Morocco on a Fulbright Scholarship. It was to highlight the possibilities that lie ahead of us! In essence, the faculty were saying, "Look at what you can do! If Jonny Upperclassman can do it, SO CAN YOU!" On the day I attended that presentation, it had honestly not occurred to me that all I had to do to pursue those same opportunities was ask about it!
As authors, it can be easy to compare ourselves to other writers who are more successful than we are. Maybe we didn’t get nominated for a prize or become #1 on Amazon on our first day. If that’s the case, don't make the mistake I did! Don’t give up on reaching for those opportunities. A lot of how a book is received is out of the author’s control, but there's a lot that's not. Even if you didn't have a great debut, it's not too late to exert your influence and make your voice heard as you tell people about the fantastic book you just wrote.
You're here, aren't you? You're officially published, right? Don’t downplay your accomplishments! Take a moment to recognize all of the hard work you’ve done, and then keep reaching for the stars.
I want to thank Beth for sharing her thoughts. If you have anything you would like to share about how you have overcome some of the challenges you face as an author, please share in the comments below. I would love to hear about your experiences!
Meet the Authors:
Bridget Edwards is a writer, editor, amateur artist, and travel enthusiast. She has been reading and writing excessively since she was a kid. As a writer, she seeks to uplift, inspire, and inform her readers. As an editor, she seeks to help other writers achieve the same thing. When she reviews a manuscript, she seeks to keep the author's unique tone, personality, and writing style, making changes only to enhance clarity, flow, and grammatical structure. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Language from Brigham Young University. You can learn more about her at http://bpedwardsediting.weebly.com/
Beth Buck got her college degree in Middle Eastern Studies but only discovered how much she loathed translating Arabic newspapers during her last semester of college, when someone pointed out to her how much time she was spending on her novel compared to her actual homework. Today, Beth has published several short stories in various anthologies and online magazines, and writes articles on emergency preparedness on the side. Beth enjoys spinning, knitting, gardening, Shaolin Kempo, long walks on the beach, and helping other authors and writers on their journey toward publication. And when she’s not doing any of that she’s also a homeschooling mom.